For the last couple of weeks, we have been looking at Rowntree memories. No excuse needed for that: this year, after all, marks the 150th anniversary of Henry Isaac Rowntree starting the chocolate empire that bore his name.

About 600 people contributed memories of the company for a travelling exhibition mounted by the Rowntree Society. Former employees wrote fondly of meeting husbands and wives at the factory; the way the company looked after its staff; and watching the bicycles coming out of the factory gates at the end of a shift.

Rowntree’s products have featured in many of the memories – whether it was the smell of chocolate as you walked past the factory; or a children’s game to see who could resist chewing a fruit pastille the longest.

Sometimes, the memories are – with the benefit of hindsight, at least – quite comical: such as this, from an anonymous contributor. “My dad, a mechanical engineer, worked on packaging machinery design. For some reason, he was on the floor where the jelly was made, and fell in a vat of jelly. My mum wouldn’t buy Rowntree’s jelly for ages afterwards.”

The company was soon forgiven, however – and the lure of its products, to wide-eyed children at least, remained strong.

“Dad bought mis-shaped Smarties from the factory,” wrote the same anonymous contributor. “I was about five years old. When I was given any money all I ever wanted was to buy a tube of ‘proper’ Smarties.”

Many of the memories contributed to the Rowntree Society for its travelling exhibition, which came to an end earlier this year, were anonymous. But they still, nevertheless, help paint a wonderfully affectionate portrait of the factory that employed so many generations of York people.

Another contributor writes of being taken to visit the factory at the age of four, in 1948. “My father took my brother and myself… for an unofficial visit. In those days this could be done by an employee on the understanding that they were responsible for the safety of their visitors. The things we saw were unforgettable… a giant mechanical spoon stirring chocolate in a massive machine… mountains of sweets and tons of ingredients stacked up ready for use.”

Often, generations of the same family worked for the company. “My mother worked in Rowntree’s all her life, starting at age 15, until her retirement, hand-piping chocolate. Her last job was in the canteen, and taking food around the factory,” goes one typical contribution.

“My grandfather also worked there for 30 years in the power house.”

Sometimes, there were hazards to being a Rowntree’s employee, however – and not just those associated with falling in a vat of jelly. “My mother worked for a few months on the twilight shift on the After Eight conveyor belt, and later recalled that it was a good job she did not hold down the job for too long as they were her favourite confectionery,” writes another contributor. “Due to the fact that staff could eat the sweets on their shift, she put on a stone in a month!”

One thing Press reader Keith Chapman recalls about Rowntree’s, where he worked for 17 years in the 1960s and 1970s, was the “music room”.

It used to pipe music all over the factory, he recalls. “And I remember when the music would start at 8.30am… you should have seen those women pack!”